Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick as Paris Saint-Germain won 4-1 at Barcelona to give themselves a commanding aggregate lead in their Champions League last-16 tie.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot but Mbappe latched onto Marco Verratti’s delightful dink to pull the visitors level in the first half.
The French superstar was in the right place at the right time to finish a loose ball in the second half, before on-loan Everton man Moise Kean continued his fine season by heading in a free-kick to extend PSG’s lead.
Mbappe finished a sweeping counter-attack to extend the lead in the closing stages and give Mauricio Pochettino a resounding victory in his first Champions League match as PSG boss.
Here are five talking points from Camp Nou.
1. Mbappe leaves Barca facing another uphill battle
The deficit is not as huge as it was in 2017, but Barcelona will need to produce another remarkable second-leg comeback if they are to progress to the quarter-finals.
Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick and Moise Kean’s header means the Catalans will need to score four goals at Parc des Princes without conceding.
French superstar Mbappe showed off his full array of his talents with his sublime three-goal showing at Camp Nou.
His first goal was the result of his fantastic footwork and finishing ability in the box as he combined with Marco Verratti to pull PSG level. His second goal – which put PSG ahead – showed his striker’s instincts as he was in the right place at the right time to finish a loose ball.
And Mbappe’s third was the pick of the bunch, as he curled the ball into the far top corner after a delightful counter-attack in the 85th minute.
The 22-year-old’s magic leaves Barcelona needing a miracle.
2. Thrilling advert for the game
Some first legs can be cagey affairs when both sides are in damage limitation mode – but not this one.
Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain set up to attack this game and it made for thrilling viewing.
Antoine Griezmann went closest in the opening stages but took too long to get the ball out of his feet.
At the other end, Mauro Icardi was a constant menace and had plenty of chances, but it was his fellow Argentine Lionel Messi who opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark.
Messi hammered a penalty into the top corner after Layvin Kurzawa clipped Frenkie de Jong’s heels in the box.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner should have had an assist moments later as he danced away from PSG defenders and teed-up Ousmane Dembele, who could only manage a limp effort at Keylor Navas.
The miss proved costly as Kylian Mbappe levelled, and both sides had plenty more chances throughout the pulsating first half – even in Neymar and Angel Di Maria’s absence.
PSG’s growing dominance in the fixture was reflected after the interval as Mbappe added two goals either side of Moise Kean’s header to complete a famous victory for the French giants.
Watching Europe’s biggest stars shine on the biggest stage is exactly why we tune into the Champions League; let’s hope this game was a sign of things to come in the remaining last-16 ties.
3. PSG’s joy down the left
During a fixture filled with scything moves, it was PSG’s attacks down the left which were most dangerous.
Kylian Mbappe and Layvin Kurzawa have formed a fantastic connection on the flank and were a constant handful for Sergino Dest, who was too often left without cover.
Mbappe, of course, grabbed three goals, but he was also a creative outlet and teed-up Kurzawa late in the first half, with the left-back forcing a fine save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Responding to the danger down their right, Barcelona gradually abandoned their plan to defend with a narrow back four and became increasingly stretched, leaving space for PSG’s other attackers to test Ter Stegen.
As the match wore on, any semblance of defensive discipline began to disappear and Mbappe’s third of the evening – which capped a sweeping counter-attack – raises serious questions of Barcelona’s spirit.
4. Pique’s return
Ronald Koeman had a major selection headache in the build-up to the visit of Paris Saint-Germain, with Barcelona severely depleted at centre-back.
Gerard Pique had been missing since November with a serious knee injury and back-up option Ronald Araujo sustained an ankle injury the previous midweek.
Koeman was forced to field Frenkie de Jong at centre-back for the clash with Alaves on Saturday – but it would not have been wise to risk the natural midfielder in defence against the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi.
Fortunately for the Barca boss, Pique returned from injury just in time to face PSG.
But, truth be told, the veteran Spaniard struggled to deal with the pace of the Ligue 1 side’s attacks and arguably could have done better for Kylian Mbappe’s first and second goals.
Pique tried to head away Marco Verratti’s Mbappe-bound flick on PSG’s first goal, while his lack of pace meant he was always scrambling to clear Alessandro Florenzi’s pull-back for the second, but could only manage to scuff the ball into Mbappe’s path.
Perhaps he was just rusty, or perhaps Pique’s 34 years are catching up with him.
5. Battle of the former Saints bosses
Fast forward six-and-a-half years and the two former Saints bosses were managing Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain in the showcase clash of the Champions League last 16.
It’s early days for Koeman and Pochettino in their respective tenures at Barca and PSG, but they know they will ultimately be judged on their successes – and failures – in Europe’s premier competition.
That statement is especially true for Pochettino, as the PSG hierarchy have shown league and domestic titles are not enough if European progress is not good enough.
With that in mind, PSG’s stunning performance at Camp Nou gets Pochettino off to the best possible start, and his side already appear to have one foot in the quarter-finals.
As for Barcelona, Koeman’s future will come under scrutiny after a heavy home defeat, and he will demand more fight from his players to emerge from the second leg with a respectable aggregate score at the very least.